About Sheila E.
Guided by the forces of family, faith, and music, Sheila E. has made a name for herself as one of the most talented musical icons over the decades. With a fearless nature and a passion for sharing her gifts with others, Sheila truly follows the beat of her own drum. She touches the lives of so many, with her dynamic music career at the heart of everything. Sheila’s eagerness to share her music, openness as an author, and fire for her ministry make her such a relatable, inspirational figure for people of all ages.
Following the Beat of Her Drum
Born into a musical family, Sheila Escovedo (Sheila E.) has been driven by an inner rhythm her entire life. As a young girl, she was immersed in the diverse music scenes of the Bay Area—influenced and inspired by her percussionist father Pete Escovedo; musical uncles Coke Escovedo, Alejandro Escovedo, Mario Escovedo, and Javier Escovedo; and godfather Tito Puente. Growing up in the Escovedo household, musical instruments were for everyone. “Nobody cared as long as you could keep time (or have a good time),” she writes in her memoir, The Beat Of My Own Drum.
Pete Escovedo, Sheila’s father, has recently released his own memoir detailing the musical story of his life and family. It is available for purchase online.
Discovering Her Inner Rhythm
Before Sheila had language, she had rhythm. When she was 3 years old, she developed a love for playing various musical instruments, feeling the most connected to the drums and other percussion instruments. Born into an environment filled with music, with music running through her veins, Sheila found an inner beat that fueled her every move. As a young child, she’d copy the hand movements of her father as he played the drums—planting the seed for what would quickly become her life’s passion.
Turning Her Passion Into a Career
At the age of 5, Sheila gave her first public performance for an audience of 3,000, appearing alongside her dad. It was while on that stage playing a drum solo that Sheila first realized she was going to be a percussionist. Five decades later, and the beat that has always driven her is showing no signs of slowing down. The famous drummer, singer, songwriter, author, humanitarian, and icon is following the beat of her own drum. She considers music to be the purest form of self-expression and the one true love of her life. Read Sheila’s full bio below.
The Healing Power of Music
Sexually abused at the age of 5, Sheila E. carried shame and pain around with her for years. Though she didn’t realize it at the time, music helped her to move beyond her abuse, to no longer let what had happened to her define who she is. Not only has she been blessed with the gift of music running through her veins, she’s been given a powerful tool to heal her wounds and help her express herself honestly.
Sheila is passionate about two things above most: music and helping others in need. Throughout her career, she’s been fortunate enough to get to share her story and use the power of music to help those who need it most. As a child, Sheila got a taste for independent humanitarian endeavors, discovering how fulfilling it could be to use your resources (however limited they may be) to help others. Sheila is an inspirationalist, using her talents and resources to help those who need the healing power of music.
Formed from a partnership between the Elevate Hope Foundation and 51Oakland, Elevate Oakland is dedicated to providing arts and music education resources to students in Oakland. The mission of Elevate Oakland is to help elevate self-esteem, improve academic achievement, and increase attendance by creating or strengthening arts and music programs in Oakland’s public schools.
The Evolution of Sheila E.’s Music Career
Starting out, Sheila E. owned the stage as a drummer and percussionist. But her career took an exciting turn when she met Prince backstage after a gig. The singer-songwriter revealed he had been following her career for some time, and the two quickly became friends. Their friendship eventually led to Sheila E. lending her vocals on Prince’s song “Erotic City”—a move that prompted her to launch her own solo singing career. Having been influenced by so many different genres of music over the years, as a singer, Sheila E. nails a variety of styles. From Latin, to jazz, to R&B, Sheila pours her heart and soul into every song. Sheila has had an evolutionary music career. Her sound changes with the era and her life. For example, Sheila’s first singles differ in sound from the Sheila E. of today. You can hear her maturation—as a person and an artist—as her career has grown.